The Art & Ease of Making Idols

Tuesday was “date day” with my honey.  It’d been awhile and we were looking forward to . . . well, nothing in particular; just some good, uninterrupted quality time between the two of us.

As you may know if you’ve been following my posts over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with doubt and worry over certain ‘situations’ in our lives.  (Alright, in full disclosure its been a lot longer than the last couple of weeks, but it seems to have been a particularly hard-fought battle lately.)  Still, on Tuesday I vowed early on that I wasn’t going to stress about whatever the current status may be of our money—or my job (or lack of), or our future finances—at least for the entire rest of the day.

Yeah.  Right.

Well . . . let me make a little caveat here in that I really didn’t stress about money.  However, I was honestly amazed at how often I caught myself thinking about money; employment; financial security; etc. etc.  Which, eventually and somewhat inevitably, led me to think about this . . .

Exodus 20: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.  3 You must not have any other god but me.  4 You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them . . .” (NLT)

Often when we think of “idols” in the Ten Commandments context, we go right into the “image(s) of anything in the heavens or on the earth . . .” and pictures of golden calves, happy Buddhas, Vishnu, pyramids and so on dance through our imaginations.  But I think, on deeper reflection, it’s more apparent that God was speaking in much broader terms; asking us to consider anything that takes the focus of our thoughts away from relationship with Him, our family, and those around us and onto the troubles and priorities of the world.

Money can very easily become an “idol” that you “bow down to” (being a slave to your work, job, corporation, etc.—hating it all, but unable to walk away) or “worship” ( in awe of equities capable of 20%+ returns) or give “affection” to (the allegiance to unbridled capitalism . . . the constant quest of more, more, more).  It’s not money that’s the root of all evil (with apologies to Roger Waters), it’s the love of money, and the resultant anxiety of where it’s going to come from and where it’s going to go . . . the constant focus of our attentions towards what is ultimately a fleeting, selfish need at best.

It really caught me off-guard, how easily I slipped into “idol” mode of my financial struggles.  I can read page after page of God’s promises of provision for my needs; yet, for some reason it still doesn’t sink in.  After all, the Bible was written hundreds to thousands of years ago, certainly they didn’t have mortgages back then; home equity loans; $4/gallon gas & $2.50/gallon milk!

I have real needs here!

Don’t think you have this same susceptibility to idolize the mundane?  Pick a worry in your life; a habit; a hobby; a TV show for goodness sake.  Go ahead . . . I’ll wait.  Now, try not to think about it, stress on it, or care about it for an entire day.  How about an hour.  How about five minutes!

Still convinced you can do it?  Try going without social media for the day; the internet; your tablet or cell phone . . .

Still convinced?   Now do without your time-management . . . lose your appointment book; your schedule; your to-do list.  Go a day, an afternoon, an hour, without your “busyness”.

Mm hmm.  That’s what I thought.  Not so easy is it!  There’s something—there’s always something—that draws our attention; keeps our focus off of what truly matters in our lives—our families, our neighbors, our Lord—and onto the mundane, trivial, unimportant crap of worldly nothingness.  The old sayings often ring the truest:

“The Devil’s in the details.”

“If the enemy can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

By contrast and in all fairness, “keeping your eyes upon Jesus” isn’t that easy either.  We don’t live with Him.  We live here; in the world; where there are bankers, merchants, deadlines, billboards, scantily cald Victoria Secret models, and little children with puppy-dog eyes.

Certainly they didn’t have those in Bible times!

As far as our “date day”, my honey and I had a wonderful time.  I’m constantly in awe of how blessed I am to have such an amazing, patient, understanding (and beautiful) wife.  With concerted effort, I was able to keep the stressing and worrying to a minimum.  When I couldn’t, she laughed at me: Which was the totally appropriate and proper response.  She understood and I think God understands too.  He probably shakes his head and laughs just like she does.

He knows.

The stresses weren’t totally gone, but the willingness to let them go was there.  For now; for today; and for my wife; and for God, I think that was enough.

Matthew 6: 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble. (AMP)

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5 thoughts on “The Art & Ease of Making Idols”

  1. Great post Kent! I can definitely relate! Sometimes we only think of idols as something we have, but something we don’t gave can be just as dangerous. Plus, we add covetousness to our load of indiscretions.

    1. Thanks Curtis. Exactly. It had never really sunk in, the whole, “where your mind is, there your heart goes also” until I had this little epiphany moment. It was kinda like an annoying gnat that I kept swatting at yet it kept returning to buzz in my ear. It was very eye-opening to me how easily we COULD fall into this unintended “idol” worship–whatever it may be.

  2. Hey Kent, great post. Is it possible that these recent worries about your finances is a message from God and not just typical worry? Could he be saying that it’s now time for you to take on a more active role in the process again? Is there a way that you’d be able to tell the difference b/t God’s will and our natural tendency to worry?

    Loved the Roger Waters reference, btw! 🙂

    1. Those are very relevant questions Nate, and yes, I’ve wrestled with that as well. The feelings I’ve had have been very similar to when I was wrestling with whether or not to walk away from B&N. I can look back now, with clear 20/20 hindsight, and see that the choice was exactly what I was supposed to do. The frustration that I continue to wrestle with is purely a “worldly, materialistic” one of not having employment. (It’s an issue 😛 ) What I continually blind myself to is the growth I’ve seen in my own spiritual walk, the growth in relationship with my family, not to mention my family’s growth (especially my 10 y.o. son) towards Jesus. It’s been an amazing year relationally, including some that have been started and fostered online (like with yourself 🙂 ) The only trouble I can see is that ‘relationships’ aren’t something the world values. Still, I can’t say that this isn’t exactly what I was/am supposed to be doing, and/or have been doing for the past year. As of late, I am beginning to put a more concerted effort into finding a job–preferably in writing and NOT in retail. One thing I will not do however, is reenter the rat-race at the expense of ANY of the relationships I’ve built. This is one area that I will continue to rest in God’s provision. God may not provide me with a job without a sufficient “active role in the process”. But I believe he will aid in providing the ‘right’ one. I also rest (sometimes reminding myself to consciously do so) in the peace of knowing that I have everything I need . . . for today.

  3. I see the irony in my own life—- I am obsessed to get the job done and move on through the never-ending list of “next tasks” in an effort to be COMFORTABLE in my own skin—COMFORTABLE in my “own” productivity. It is so easy to use a job as measuring stick of our worth! And that IS idol worship. I WANT my focus to be following God and pleasing him. I WANT to remember there is no “accomplishment” more important that that. But, oh how easy it is to get caught up in the rush of every day pressures and to forget our real purpose here on this earth. It is a constant battle and like a pendulum, my life swings from frenetic activity to just-don’t-give-a-damn. Every so often God’s light manages to break through and remind me of what is important and help me to “see” once again what is real and true.

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